We’d been nervously watching the weather forecast ahead of this weekend, as it’s been cold, snowy, wet and windy, and more snow due at the weekend.

Unsurprisingly, the race organisers decided to cancel the race yesterday morning:




So, what to do?   I’d started the carb loading (being greedy) that’s required ahead of a long run.  As it was Saturday night, I was in three minds really:

  • bin the idea of running this weekend, and get hammered
  • run something shorter, keep close to home, and bail if needs be
  • map out a 20 mile training run, grow a pair, and run it anyway

For some daft reason, I opted to only have a couple of beers, and go for option 3.  Once our dinner party guests had gone home and I’d done the washing up, I sat down with the laptop, clicked onto the Mapometer website, and mapped out a route for me and Emma.

Emma’s running the London marathon on 21st April, so she was very keep to get a 20 mile run under the belt.  A quick email exchange in the morning firmed up the plan.

The local weather forecast was pretty grim:  light snow, -2c, 16-17mph winds, and a wind chill taking it down to -8c.

As soon as we got out there, if didn’t actually feel THAT cold, a good bit milder in fact.   We started off slightly quicker than we should have – Emma’s desired marathon pace is 10 minute miles, so we settled into the pace quite well.

The weather started to get a bit worse – a lot of time it was snowing, but thankfully it wasn’t really settling.  There was a bit of snow and ice on the ground in places, and a good few slushy puddles, most of which we managed to dodge.

We completed the first 10 miles of the run in 1:40, bang on the 10 minute mile pace.  We slowed for a bit of a walk at 10 miles, took on an energy gel, and then carried on.  The route was a bit of an out and back, with a couple of loops at either end.  We turned at 11 and a bit miles, and turned back into a Baltic icy wind.  Now that was tough.  And wet.

We trucked on for a bit, and decided to have another little walk at 15 miles, and take on some energy gel.  We actually ended up walking for a quarter of a mile, but it was a well needed rest.  There is one problem with stopping to walk though, and that’s starting to run again!  But run we did, until we hit mud.

In another route planning fail, I took us down a very muddy bridleway.  On the mapping software, it was a named road, so I thought it would be OK.  Unfortunately not.  It was another mud mile – it was so slippery and treacherous that mile 16 took us 14:11 – I think the slowest I’ve ever covered a mile.  The last few miles were a real struggle.  I had to make us slow to a walk a couple of times  – strategic walks as we call them – up a hill on the flyover, and again coming out of an underpass.  Apart from that, we ran the whole 20 miles.

The good news is that it was 4:59 off the Oakley 20 mile race last year!

All in all, a good day out – a little bit of strategic walking.

No race photo’s I’m afraid, but I did take a couple of snaps when I got back.  The fakes smile ever:

Fake smile

Fake smile


And “mud mile” made a right mess of my shoes and socks!



Here’s the link to my Garmin data:


The afternoon was spent having a long soak in the bath, tucking into a delicious Chinese, and a few beers to make up for going easy last night.



Silverstone Half Marathon 2013 Race Report

First race of the year already!  Wow, that snuck up on me!

Thankfully I’ve been doing a fair bit of training – over 200 miles for the year so far, and I’d ran the full distance in training a couple of times, so I was confident of the distance.  I’ve been training with my friend Emma, who’s running the London marathon this year in aid of the Prostate Cancer UK charity.  The plan is to train up to the 20 mile distance, which will be in hit at the Oakley 20 mile race in 3 weeks time.

This is the third time for me running this race.  Back in 2011, it was my first half marathon, and I completed it in 2:32:38.  That was tough – getting up to half marathon distance in less than a year was no mean feat for a massively unfit fat bloke.  Just completing the distance seemed like such an achievement!

Last year as part of my training for my first marathon, I ran Silverstone again, and carved a chunk off the 2011 time, and ran it in 2:13:38.  I was hoping to get that down a bit today.  One of my running targets for 2013 was to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, so with a bit of encouragement from my shibby friends, I decided to go for it today.

Last night I had a big ole plate of pesto pasta, with some chicken and roast vegetables, and for breakfast, I had the usual porridge and golden syrup.  I also had a couple of hot cross buns while queuing to park, so I was certainly well fuelled for this race!

My running buddy Tom picked me up at 8:45 for a 12noon start.  Silverstone is about an hour and half drive from home, but getting in and parking is a pain, so we left in plenty of time.  However, we were up there far too early, so stopped for coffee and a toilet break just off J15a of the M1, and there were loads of runners there!  We necked a coffee each, and used the facilities, and hit the road and joined the queue to get into Silverstone.

We got in and parked up without any drama, and and headed to the pit lane, where the baggage drop off is.  We met up with my Mum and sister who had come to watch the race.  We had a bit of a chat, used the facilities again, stripped off a couple of layers, and headed to the start.  It was quite a cool day, weather wise, about 7C, so I decided to run in a compression top with t-shirt over the top, and tights.  It didn’t feel too cold, so I decided to ditch the gloves, and wear my lucky marathon cap, rather than my beanie.

I decided that the tactic for todays race should be to find the 9 minute/mile pacer, and stick to them for as long as possible.  If we could do that, we should be home in 2 hours, with a little bit to spare.  They had changed the pace system this year though, and had a finish time pacer, rather than a mile pacer.  The closest was a 1:58 pacer for the distance.  We decided to try and hang onto him for as long as possible – try to keep him in our sights, and we might get close to our target.  A lot of people had the same idea – I guess a 2 hour half marathon is a target for a lot of runners!

We were off on time this year at 12:00 sharp.  We set off quite quickly – probably a bit too quickly, we passed the mile marker 8:45 – probably a bit pacey really.  It’s hard to run at your own pace at times – on one hand, it’s so easy to either be swept along by the crown, but on the other hand, it’s also easy to get stuck behind slower runners too.  So in a lot of respect, it’s hard to run your own race.

I slowed up/got caught in traffic for a while, miles 2 and 3 were 8:58 and 8:53 respectively   It felt great to be running at sub 9 minute miles – something I hadn’t done for a while, and hadn’t ever ran far at.  I managed to maintain the sub 9 minute miles for the next few miles.  I completed the first 10k, in 54:50, which was only 13s slower than my 10k PB.

I was starting to feel confident, and could still see the 1:58 pacer, so cracked on.

Mile 7 dipped over the 9 minute mile, to 9:03.  Doubt was starting to set in by now, but I decided to stick to the plan, keep Mr 1:58 in view and hang on for as long as possible.

I managed to turn it around for the next few miles, and managed to get back under 9 minutes per mile.  I could still see the 1:58 pacer as we passed the 13 mile marker, and although my time went back up to 9:03 for mile 13.

I’d pretty much had enough of following Mr 1:58 by this stage.  It made me very nervous overtaking him for some reason – it somehow felt ungrateful and disloyal, but I did it anyway.  I passed him very slowly, and I could pretty much see him over my shoulder for the rest of the race, but I was ahead of Mr 1:58, and ahead of my target time.

I managed to pick up the pace slightly, and completed the last 0.26 mile at an average pace of 8:00 miles.  There wasn’t much left in the tank.  I’d probably only taken on 250ml of water, and a mouthful of Lucozade Sport during the race, so was pretty depleted of energy and hydration.

I crossed the line in 1:59 something, but I knew we hadn’t crossed the start line for a good couple of minutes after the official time had started.

I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finishing mat.  I looked down, and it said 1:57!  I was chuffed to bits with that!  My watch time was 1:57:23, and the official chip time of 1:57:19!

Here’s my Garmin link for all you stats fans:




Now that’s a PB!  My quickest half marathon distance race before was the Greenway Challenge half marathon last May at a time of 2:08:41, although my fastest half in training was 2:06:30, which was a training run back in January 2012.  Chuffed is an understatement!

Here’s a photo of me and my running buddy Tom just after the finish (I’m the normal sized one on the left):

Tom and I

Tom and I

While I was out running, my lovely wife Sam was preparing a feast for us as a tasty reward.  Home made curry, sag daal, and home made naan bread.  Washed down with many, many cans of lovely lager:

Curry numnums!

Curry numnums!

Meanwhile, over at the crazy town that is Born to Plod, my good friend Jay drew me a lovely drawing.  That’s right, me pissing all over the 2 hour half marathon!  Thanks Jay, you crazy diamond!